A tree usually 50 to 70 ft in the wild, occasionally attaining 100 ft; young shoots minutely downy; winter-buds ovoid, 3⁄16 in. long, some of their scales free at the tips. Leaves in fives, falling the third year, 11⁄2 to 21⁄2 in. long, very slightly toothed on the margin, twisted, with silvery lines of stomata on the inner surface; leaf-sheath 3⁄8 in. long, deciduous. Cones egg-shaped, 11⁄4 to 4 in. long, oblong-ovoid, usually produced in whorls of three or four, borne in extraordinary profusion even by quite young trees.
A native of Japan; introduced by J. G. Veitch in 1861. As usually seen in this country it is a slow-growing, bushy tree with rather dark needles. As it bears heavy crops of cones, which turn back after opening and persist on the branches for six or seven years, it is not very ornamental. This form has the appearance of a Japanese garden variety and the plants may have been imported from one of the Japanese nurseries early this century or in the last decades of the 19th century. Or it may derive from the original introduction by Veitch. The normal wild form is rare in Britain, the most notable example being a tree at Stourhead, Wilts, measuring 69 × 61⁄2 ft (1970).
cv. ‘Glauca’. – The plants in commerce under this name have conspicuously glaucous leaves and are said to be of comparatively dwarf habit, and to cone very freely.